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Monday, October 1, 2012

Second Major EDA Helicopter Exercise for 2012 Lifts Off in Belgium

By Andrew Drwiega, Military Editor

Green Blade 2012 exercise logo.
Exercise Green Blade, scheduled for Sept. 17 to Oct. 5 in Belgium, is the second major multinational helicopter training exercise organized by the European Defence Agency this year. It follows hot on the heels of Exercise Hot Blade (see Rotor & Wing, August 2012, page 44), which was held in Portugal from July 4-19.

Whereas Hot Blade’s ambitions are to train multinational helicopter crews in a wide range of joint operability tasks, Green Blade has been specifically organized to focus on multinational special force cooperation using helicopters. It is running alongside the dedicated special forces Exercise Pegasus.

Special forces personnel include those from seven EDA member states: Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Ireland and Spain (as well as Canada for the Pegasus exercise). Helicopter support in the form of 18 aircraft will come from Belgium (A109 light), Germany (UH-1D utility) and Italy (CH-47 heavy lift and A129 attack).

Hosted by the Belgian forces, with the helicopters based at the Kleine Brogel airbase, the two exercises involve a NATO AWACS as well as F16s, C130s and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A Belgian B-Hunter UAV will support special forces, particularly during personnel recovery missions.

Around 65 helicopter day and night missions are planned during the period, during which the complexity will increase as the exercise develops. These will include insertion/extraction, direct action, personnel recovery, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). According to the EDA, there will also be a range of convention tasks and non-tactical training opportunities particularly in the fields of night vision goggle (NVG) usage, nap-of-earth flying and some kinetic training with guns.

EDA capabilities director Peter Round said: “We fight together, and so we have to work together, pooling our resources. An exercise like this is the best way to deliver high quality training in these challenging times.”

 

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